A map behind the desk of Dan Taylor, details the travels of the Chief Executive of Flutter Entertainment Plc’s International unit. So far in 2023, Taylor has “travelled to 29 countries in six months”, to oversee the progress and expansion of Flutter’s international division (which excludes its brands in the UK, Ireland, US and Australia).
“I guess I could start a travel blog” Taylor cites, “but I don’t think that our board would allow it… I would be giving away far too many secrets!”
Once more, Flutter stands at “a point of inflection”, as declared by Group CEO Peter Jackson, following the FTSE100 firm’s H1 interim results, which underlined the acceleration of Flutter’s global profile across all continents.
H1 trading saw Flutter demonstrate its operating prowess as group revenues surpassed £4.8bn, while its US division turned profitable, with FanDuel generating EBITDA of over $100m.
While the US performance made headlines, the International division made up of PokerStars, Adjarabet, Sisal, Junglee and Betfair (non-UK) doubled its Interim EBITDA results to £284m (33% of group earnings).
The company added that it was well positioned to capitalise on growth in its fast-growing ‘Consolidate and Invest’ markets, which include Italy, Spain, Georgia, Armenia, Brazil, India and Turkey. Combined, these markets made up 77% of divisional revenue, which was seven percentage points higher than the same period last year, and saw growth of 19%.
The longest-serving member of Flutter’s executive management team, Taylor agrees with Jackson’s ‘inflection point’ statement. Flutter prepares to undertake its dual US listing, which once more will transform its business and consequently change the landscape of global gambling.
Aware of the significance of pending affairs, Taylor provides a coal-face perspective as a leader of a company gunning to become global gambling’s most valuable Plc.
“It’s no secret that we want to be top of the podium positions,” Taylor noted.
“This is a completely different business than when I first entered the Power Tower in 2015. Back then we were very much a localised Anglo-Irish operator, with limited presence in international markets.
“We now operate on a global scale, in which our endeavour is to provide the best-localised products for consumers in each market.”
“It’s difficult. For each regulated market, my team thoroughly examines what it takes to take the top spot, analysing spend and the actual opportunity at play. What is clear is that it is pointless for a Flutter brand to be the fourth or fifth brand in a market.”
Having been created in 2020 following Flutter’s acquisition of The Stars Group, its International division had to manage a number of regulatory headwinds as well as the challenges of the COVID pandemic, but it is now primed for growth. As outlined in its results, it sees a sizeable market opportunity internationally worth £227bn, of which over £120bn is currently ‘regulated-or-regulating’. It believes this potential for expansion, combined with International’s stable of leading brands, presents a significant opportunity to build and buy further podium positions.
A perfect example of this is in Italy, where Flutter purchased the heritage Italian operator Sisal last year, bringing the number of active customers within Taylor’s international division to more than four million.
“Sisal has been an important integration for the business, strengthening our position within the Italian market, which needed a refresh,” Taylor continued.
“A retail presence was required in Italy – Sisal provided that, as it was clear that Betfair and PokerStars alone were not going to cut it.”
Yet of further significance, Sisal has provided Flutter an entry into the lucrative market of Turkey, ringfenced by the government for authorised ‘licensed businesses’ such as the Sisal-Sans lottery joint-venture.
Taylor recognises the responsibility of operating in Turkey, which has been treated as a “black and grey market by competitors”, and is tasked with leading the development of Sisal’s multi-million investment for a fresh, dynamic and culturally complex Turkish market, which has emerged as a key segment of Flutter International growth profile.
“It is a privilege to work in the Turkish market, which many have treated as a black or grey destination.”
“Turkey is vitally important for us, and we are sending our top talent to establish the best-localised product for online and retail consumers,” Taylor envisions Turkey becoming the difference maker for Flutter International within Europe’s ever-saturated markets.
The Flutter International CEO is questioned on “whether a business’ roots and origins matter?” as Flutter stands on the precipice of another transformation, parting the group further away from its Anglo-Irish identity.
“I believe that culture and origins are important for a business, and Flutter has kept its challenger mindset throughout its many transformations.
“But what blows my mind is the level of top talent we have added to our business, which gives us the confidence to tackle any market.”
Approaching a decade as a Flutter executive, Taylor provided his unique perspective to fresh-faced executives joining the gambling sector amid a backdrop of regulatory and social changes.
He noted: “Working in gambling you will learn the importance of scaling a business, which not many industries can offer. Prior to Flutter, I worked as a management consultant on tech and digital projects. But I have learned so much more in the past eight years of experiences and challenges.
“I love the food in Italy, the majestic culture of Turkey and the hospitality of Georgia,” Taylor reflected – “I can’t say our industry is easy, but it is fun and provides a unique experience and challenge like no other.”
Providing a unique leader’s perspective on global gambling, perhaps Flutter’s board should publish Mr Taylor’s travel blog after all.
Dan Taylor is headline speaker at the upcoming SBC Summit Barcelona, delivering a keynote on day-1 of the event (September 20) from 10:00 to 10:20. In his address titled “Co-creating the Flutter Edge: Insights from Flutter’s International CEO,” will delve into the nuances of the ‘Flutter Edge’ strategy. Taylor will illuminate how Flutter’s local brands achieved a competitive advantage by harnessing the organisation’s extensive resources and worldwide influence.
Following his keynote, the CEO will participate in the panel discussion “SBC Leaders – Navigating Global Growth Markets.” Joining him will be industry luminaries Jesper Svensson (CEO, Betsson Group), Nils Anden (CEO, Kindred Group), Gustaf Hagman (CEO and Co-founder, LeoVegas Group), and Maarja Part (CEO, Yolo Group). Together, they will provide insights into the ‘next big things’ on the horizon for the global betting and iGaming sectors.